I've gone on record many times stating I still want to know when we're screwing it up in Iraq, not just when we get it right. Pointing fingers and counting bodies ain't informing me, because it gives me no avenues for change.
However, articles like this are important:
US soldiers driving bulldozers, with jazz blaring from loudspeakers, have uprooted ancient groves of date palms as well as orange and lemon trees in central Iraq as part of a new policy of collective punishment of farmers who do not give information about guerrillas attacking US troops
There is almost nothing more counterproductive to a "hearts and minds" campaign than pissing off farmers, and nothing pisses off a farmer faster than destroying fruit crops that can take decades to cultivate & mature. This is such a basic tenet in a counter-insurgency war I am simply flabberghasted that anything like this could actually happen.
Some rear-echelon MF'ing officer has decided to treat grownups like playground kids, without once realizing he's not taking away toys, he's taking away food and money. Again, according to this report at least, they're not hacking down trees to deny snipers cover, they're hacking them down to prove just who's "in charge".
So now we have at least one village out there, probably more, that just boiled over with new Ba'athist and al-Qaeda recruits with nothing more to show for it than an action report covering some tin star's ass. Good job guys, hope a family who's kid gets capped by a sniper from this village mails his purple heart to the Mr. Commanding F-up who thought this one up.
Riverbend over at Baghdad Burning does an excellent job describing the magnitude of this screwup.
Of course the media says almost nothing, because finding out about this stuff requires leaving the Palestine hotel and actually doing research. And besides, if it isn't reported in their daily press briefings from the Pentagon, it can't be that important, can it?
Sometimes I think we learned a lot from Vietnam. A lot. Then I read things like this and I realize some folks, important ones at that, have learned nothing.